More than 240 attendees gathered today for the International Women's Day webinar hosted by WSAA and AWA, where a distinguished panel of women in the water industry shared their experiences and discussed opportunities at individual and organisational levels. The event was a refreshing take on discussing the experiences of women based on the theme of 'count her in'.

The panel included Emma Olivier - Director Wannon Water and Founder Twenty Percent Disability Inclusion Advisory, Tammy Falconer -  Engineering & Asset Management Partner, KPMG Chelsea Hayward - Water Engineer, Jacobs and was facilitated by Eve Rodrigues, Manager Customer and Community, WSAA.

The event delved into the importance of feeling valued and included or 'being COUNTED IN', promoting diversity, setting goals, and investing in women. Tammy, Emma, and Chelsea offered valuable insights on topics such as diversity hiring, learning through failures, being vulnerable, and the significance of supporting women, especially young professionals, in the industry.

One of the key discussions revolved around the challenges of being the only woman in the room and the need for better support systems and inclusivity across all backgrounds and experiences. The panel emphasised that while women face unique obstacles, addressing inequality and fostering a supportive environment is a collective responsibility. They also highlighted the importance of male allies in championing gender equality and creating a more inclusive workplace. The webinar concluded with inspiring success stories, showcasing the progress and impact of investing in women and counting them in, leaving attendees motivated and empowered to drive positive change in the water industry.


Here are some reflections on the event from two of our Young Utility Leaders:

From Emily Hill, Hunter Water

You know there’s a few engineers in the room when data is the first thing that’s mentioned, which acted as a great focal point. Tammy Falconer made a great point about flipping the narrative – when branded with “diversity hire” by those looking to cast you as other, own it and encourage discussion on why that’s valuable for your organisation. Diversity is a competitive edge for an organisation, not just a quota. I hadn’t thought I’d hear a key pillar of improv theatre articulated so well by a partner at KPMG.

From Natalia Quinn, Yarra Valley Water

I loved this year’s IWD event. An instant reflection for me is just feeling reminded that I’m not alone as a woman navigating a career in the water industry. Many of us share similar challenges and by simply connecting we can learn and draw inspiration from one another.

I could really relate to Chelsea’s self-proclaimed ‘perfectionist tendencies’ and her reflection that even through your biggest failures there’s always good in there, something that you’ll learn that you can take away and use as a strength in the future.

I liked Emma’s reminder that when you’re at a table - look around and see who isn’t there. It’s a great message for allies, men and also for women – we need to be looking at all intersections and understand that there are some groups out there with less opportunity than others.

It was great to hear Tammy’s perspective on the term ‘diversity hire’ and removing the negative connotation that can sometimes be associated with that term. Deliberate actions are important, so you can be proud working for an organisation who are purposefully making that change.

Finally I loved the comment around the natural curiosity you can bring when you might see yourself as different in a work setting. I think this is really important for us as young leaders, we may not always understand why things work the way they do – but we can ask questions and offer our own diverse perspective. This is our superpower!

Thanks to the team at WSAA and AWA for putting on a brilliant event.

From Rex Ho, South East Water

It was liberating listening to a panel of accomplished women who own and champion the diversity they bring to their organisations. Diversity is not something to just pay lip service to, but a powerful tool to leverage in creating organisation and societal change. It is worth remembering that thought diversity and different lived experience brings in the outside thinking needed to change perspectives to old problems and shake up conventional narratives. It is vitally important for us to facilitate organisational cultures that value this diversity, and beyond that, are inclusive of this diversity in our decision making.

12 Mar 2024

Rose Nguyen

Rose Nguyen

Communications Advisor